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Muy rico! (Miguel Zenón’s new CD reviewed)

Publication: Ottawa Citizen
Author
: Peter Hum
Date: August 31, 2011

Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook (Marsalis Music)
Miguel Zenón

Sitting behind me at the Newport Jazz Festival almost a month ago, a man was singing along with alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón as the alto saxophonist offered his lush and thrilling renditions of pieces by Puerto Rican composers.

I knew none of the tunes played by Zenón, his quartet, and an accompanying woodwind ensemble, but the music nonetheless worked its magic on me. Although the Newport Jazz Festival is packed two days straight, with pretty fantastic sounds, nothing I heard topped the set by Zenón saluting the music of his homeland.

I took home a copy of Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook, which was available at Newport’s disc tent but has only been officially released this week. I’m happy to say that Zenón’s latest disc is much more than a souvenir. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 1st, 2011 — 10:11am

In Conversation With Miguel Zenón

Publication: The Huffington Post
Author: Adriana Teresa Letorney
Date: August 23, 2011

Grammy Nominee and Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow Miguel Zenón recently finished his new album—Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook, which will be released on August 30th, 2011.

Born and raised in San Juan Puerto Rico, Zenón adapted traditional popular songs by legendary Puerto Rican composers—Rafael Hernández Marín, Pedro Flores, Sylvia Rexach, Bobby Capó, and Don Tite Curet Alonso—to jazz, a genre that has a tradition of making standards from popular American songs. The music in this album was arranged by Zenón and orchestrated for a 10-piece woodwind section by Argentine pianist, composer and arranger Guillermo Klein.

Adriana Teresa candidly speaks with Miguel Zenón about Alma Adentro, his commitment to music and education, and a future project.

—Adriana Teresa: What does Alma Adentro mean to you?
Miguel Zenón: I have a very profound and personal connection with many of the songs in this album. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 1st, 2011 — 10:12am

Miguel Zenón Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook

Publication: The Revivalist
Author: Liam Bird
Date: August 23, 2011

“Latin jazz” is a term routinely used to index the music of Cuba and Brazil, but its existence in Latin America is more endemic than this might suggest–though its prevalence in the U.S. as in Europe remains as limited as it is eluding. Miguel Zenón, an alto saxophonist at the forefront of the Afro-Rican jazz movement, is one of a handful of artists who have been able to break through this paradigm by fusing Puerto Rican traditions, African Roots and modern jazz while garnering critical acclaim on an international stage. He has had multiple Grammy Nominations and is a Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow, but I didn’t have to tell you that as Zenón’s arrangements on his new release, Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook, speak for themselves. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 1st, 2011 — 09:15am

Miguel Zenón: Alma Adentro - The Puerto Rican Songbook

Publication: All About Jazz
Author: Dan Bilawsky
Date: August 21, 2011

When so-called “Latin jazz” comes up in conversation, music or musicians connected to Cuba or Brazil are usually the topic of conversation. While it’s true that Afro-Cuban stylings, bossa nova beats and sizzling samba numbers seem to dominate in this umbrella category, they’re only the tip of the iceberg that is the music of Latin America. Thankfully, some important jazz musicians are helping to broaden the rest of the world’s view on what Latin America has to offer. Pianist Danilo Perez has connected the dots between music from his native Panama and jazz, and alto saxophone star Miguel Zenón is doing the same thing for Puerto Rico.

While calling somebody a “star” in jazz might seem like an oxymoron, when considering the lower-than-deserved profile of the genre on the national and international stages, Zenón fits the bill like few others. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 1st, 2011 — 09:39am

Branford Marsalis: "Can We Really Use the Word 'Important' for Something That the Majority of the People Have Never Heard?"

Publication: Seattle Weekly Blogs
Author: Chris Kornelis
Date: August 30, 2011

Earlier today I had a long chat with saxophonist Branford Marsalis, who just released, with the piano player Joey Calderazzo, Songs of Mirth and Melancholy—an album of instrumentals played with a warmth and melody usually the domain of vocalists. But Marsalis was much more interested in discussing general ideas related to jazz and pop music than he was pitching his new record (though he certainly thinks very highly of it).

Many of Marsalis’ comments directed at the jazz community could just as easily be applied to the insular “world inside a world” you can find inside the indie rockosphere, to say nothing of punk, pop, and hip-hop. He’s got a point: If the most important music being made today isn’t reaching an audience, is it really important?

Here’s an excerpt from our chat:

Marsalis: I have a lot of normal friends. ‘Cause it’s important. [New York is] a weird city where actors date actors, lawyers date lawyers, musicians date musicians, it’s real strange that way. You have a bunch of musicians talking about music and they talk about what’s good and what’s not good, and they don’t consider the larger context of it, and the larger context of it is that, you know . . . Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 31st, 2011 — 04:26pm

Linking Jazz to Boleros and Ballads

Publication: New York Times
Author: Ben Ratliff
Date: August 29, 2011

Miguel Zenón
“Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook”
(Marsalis Music)

The alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón is identifiable by his tone, which is floaty and bright and ornate; sometimes he sounds as if he’s playing a ballad even when the tempo races. But he’s also become identifiable by the quality of ideas, his particular kind of intellectual ambition.

Since his first album 10 years ago he’s become something like a perfect student, the perpetually self-challenging kind. Mr. Zenón, born and raised in Puerto Rico and living in New York — and a 2008 MacArthur Foundation award winner — could make an endless stream of contemporary jazz if he wanted to, rhythmically complicated, perfectly new, perfectly cloistered. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 30th, 2011 — 04:14pm

Miguel Zenón ‘Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook’

Publication: Boston Globe
Author: Bill Beuttler
Date: August 29, 2011

Having devoted previous albums to modern jazz interpretations of the jibaro and plena folk-music forms of his native Puerto Rico, the brilliant alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón is now doing the same for the island’s popular music. On “Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook,’’ Zenón’s longstanding quartet - including pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Hans Glawischnig, and drummer Henry Cole, augmented by a 10-piece wind ensemble - offers boldly virtuosic reworkings of two tunes apiece from five of Puerto Rico’s most beloved songwriters. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 30th, 2011 — 01:25pm

Ellis Marsalis Music Center crowns Musicians' Village

By Bill Capo
Eyewitness News
August 25, 2011

NEW ORLEANS — There was a standing room only crowd, with actress Renee Zellweger in the audience, for the dedication of the new Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, the centerpiece of Habitat for Humanity’s Musicians Village project in the Ninth Ward.

Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis played key roles in developing the Musicians Village, and the center, but as performers, they called this hall acoustically perfect.

“You’re in the middle of the Upper 9th Ward,” said Connick.  “You’ve got the highest level of state-of-the-art technical facility here. it is like all these worlds coming together.”

“You could bring a string quartet in here, and they could play without one shred of amplification, and everybody in here could hear every note in here regardless of the volume,” raved Marsalis.

“You could also bring Dr. John in here with his full band, and people would love every minute of it.”
Read more »

Ellis Marsalis Center for Music has Many 'Fathers'

THE TMES PICAYUNE/ NOLA.com
August 27, 2011
By Keith Spera

Two days before Thursday’s official unveiling of the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, I asked Harry Connick Jr., a driving force behind its creation, if he felt like an expectant father.

“Sort of,” Connick joked. “I guess if I lived in a commune, and it was polygamous, and you didn’t know who the father was.”

His point was, it takes a village to raise a Village. The new,multimillion-dollar arts education center in the Musicians’ Village has many fathers.

Among them were Connick’s close friend, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, and the duo’s longtime manager, Ann Marie Wilkins.

She, Connick made clear, handled most of the grunt work — the paperwork, the endless meetings, the logistics, the sweet-talking, the arm-twisting.

“There’s people that are way ahead of me in the credit line for this,” Connick said. “I’ve been a big mouthpiece for it, and tried my best to raise money for it. Ann Marie, they should canonize her. She made this happen. We just do what she says.”

New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, under executive director Jim Pate, developed the Musicians’ Village from an idea Marsalis and Connick hatched while driving to Houston soon after Hurricane Katrina to entertain evacuees.

Ellis Marsalis Center for Music opens in Musicians' Village

Thursday, August 25, 2011
By Keith Spera
The Times-Picayune

On Wednesday afternoon, Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis kicked the proverbial tires at the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, the new, multimillion-dollar arts, educational and community center in the upper 9th Ward’s Musicians’ Village.
Marsalis Center for Music
They jokingly checked under classroom desks for gum. They strode the dance studio’s wood floor. They demonstrated the 1.5-millisecond echo in the 150-capacity, acoustically engineered performance hall.

Had such a facility existed when he was a boy, Connick marveled, “I would have been here every day.”

The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, named for Branford’s father, the storied jazz pianist and educator, officially opens today with a private celebration.

Gov. Bobby Jindal and Mayor Mitch Landrieu are expected to speak. Connick, the senior Marsalis, and Branford and several of his siblings are slated to perform.
Read more »